Council Reviews Waterfront Ideas Small & Large

by | Feb 21, 2023

Above: The London Street Underpass with a stairway providing quick access to Crompton Avenue. 

The public is invited to weigh in at a session on March 16

Years in the making and a priority of a couple past town councilors as well as this Town Council, a plan for potential improvements on the waterfront was unveiled for the councilors last week – a grab bag of big and small proposals, including a pavilion at Scalloptown Park, stairs for the London Street underpass, and better sidewalks and lighting throughout the area.

These are visions, Town Manager Andy Nota stressed. Nothing is fixed or decided. “These are ideas that the town can hope to incorporate in coming years,” he said. 

BETA Engineering consultant Arek Galle set the stage for the study, noting that East Greenwich is nearly 17 square miles in area with the waterfront representing less than 1 square mile. 

Because the EG waterfront area is small, figuring out how to make the most of it is important, Galle said.

There are only three access ways to the water – King Street and Rocky Hollow Road for cars and pedestrians, with the London Street underpass for pedestrians only. Many east-west streets ran all the way to the water well into the 20th century, but the arrival of high-speed trains brought grade crossings to an end, limiting access to the water. 

Once at the water, Galle said, most pedestrians find they have to walk in the street at least some of the time. And getting close to the water isn’t always possible. Several of the town’s rights of way to the water have been obscured or offer no direct path. 

Starting at the southern end of EG’s waterfront, Galle said Scalloptown Park could be improved while keeping within guidelines from the Dept. of Environmental Management for a capped landfill (yes, it served as the town’s landfill for about 60 years in the 1900s). Ideas include formalizing and shrinking the parking lot (right now there’s a lot of unused space in the middle), adding a pavilion, and adding a fenced area for dogs that would run parallel with the train tracks (a small dog park, if you will). (See graphics below.)

Moving north, the plan calls for making some improvements at the Rocky Hollow and Bridge Street rights of way and adding a stairway from Crompton Avenue down to the London Street underpass, with improved lighting, making that area a bit more inviting. 

There are potentially big ideas for the town dock, transfer station and wastewater treatment plant area, including a multi-level parking structure, removal of the transfer station (perhaps with aspects of it moving elsewhere in town) and the addition of a walking path between the treatment plant and the water. Needless to say, some ideas are bigger and more expensive than others. Nothing at this point is set in stone. (See a graphic below.)

But Galle pointed out that with the town having relatively little waterfront, having the transfer station in such a prime location seemed like a waste. How about green space, instead, with more parking and perhaps places for kayaks and paddleboards? A parking structure could be built into the hillside there, allowing for more access to the waterfront. 

The right of way at the Barbara Tufts Playground – the London Street ROW – could be improved as well. Right now it is fairly hidden and a bit treacherous.

The next right of way is at Long Street, on both sides of Water Street. The inland side is just a steep driveway but perhaps a stairway could be added for people coming from Rope Walk Hill (the neighborhood above). The water side of that right of way continues to be under discussion with the property owner of the parking lot because the actual right of way crosses part of the parking lot. 

The only sidewalk in this section of Water Street is on the inland side. Could the town work with waterfront property owners to create a boardwalk in this area? That’s one idea. 

At Water Street and King Street, Galle said, both drivers and pedestrians can get confused about who can go where. BETA proposes making crosswalks and adding a sidewalk in front of the old jail (again, through a public-private partnership). BETA also envisions a much more clear cut path for the King Street ROW, which exists between the jail building and the parking lot for the Water Street Grille. (See a graphic below.)

For the final stretch of Water Street, Galle said the plan recommended better sidewalks and a more accessible (i.e. with parking) right of way at Division Street. 

The Town Council will decide whether or not to accept the report in coming weeks. Beyond that, it is one change at a time, most likely over many years.

You can find the full presentation here: East Greenwich Waterfront / BETA Briefing. The next public session is scheduled for March 16 at 6 p.m. at the Swift Community Center.

Scalloptown Park with parking lot changes and a pavilion.

The entrance to Scalloptown Park today (top) and as envisioned by BETA.

One idea for the area now occupied by the Transfer Station.

The King Street right of way as it is now (top) and as envisioned by BETA.

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February 22, 2023 9:38 am

Love all these ideas, especially the place for kayaks/paddleboards and the boardwalk, maybe there could be kiosks along the boardwalk for vendors to rent for the summer.

J Carter
J Carter
February 22, 2023 12:40 pm

I too, like these ideas. I do hope everyone involved takes into consideration global warming and the potential rise in sea levels. Spending a lot of money to enhance our waterfront must include the possibility that our waterfront may be moving upwards toward Main Street in the future.

February 23, 2023 12:47 am

The proposal for the town transfer station – a facility in great location for those who live in a town that doesn’t provide leaf vacuum and only intermittent curbside pickup of yard waste, etc despite some of the highest property taxes in the state – is …. a ….. parking lot? These consultants clearly are out of touch with reality! There is a line most Saturday’s to get in. Why would we want to get rid of this facility?! If anything, it should be opened MORE often!

February 24, 2023 10:59 am
Reply to  Clint

As I read it, the proposal does not suggest getting rid of the transfer station but instead RELOCATING it – as much as I, someone who lives in town, likes the convenience of having it located in town, I can see the benefits of moving it away from the water. The waste is not taken away on barges, so the need to be located on the cove simply does not exist…and in fact, having a waste transfer station located on the cove does nothing to beautify and preserve our coast…

February 28, 2023 11:15 am
Reply to  Dan

We are a town with a great Main Street and walkable neighborhoods.

Yet businesses (Clementines) are leaving Main Street for very “non-walkable” locations, the school committee wants to close the only downtown neighborhood school for a very “non-walkable” location, and now the town wants to move the transfer station away from its “downtown location” somewhere else (likely far from ‘town’).

We are allowing our quaint town to become a Barrington or west Greenwich (disassociated residential communities) one bad decision at a time.

The current transfer station is next to a large public works building and a water treatment plant. THOSE are ugly but we aren’t talking about moving them. If something isn’t broken, why fix it??!! Add a location elsewhere? Sure. Get rid of a very popular location for those in town paying high taxes? Another bad business decision by our Town Manager (who, by the way, remains silent on why all the long standing Town Staffers have abandoned East Greenwich for other local communities)

S Pratt
S Pratt
February 23, 2023 10:28 am

I also like the idea’s, especially at the King Street right of way, that has been somewhat blocked off by either Blu or the town. There also used to be 2 public parking spots there that have also disappeared since Blu took over the restaurant, that used to be 20 Water Street.

Dale Van de vrede
Dale Van de vrede
March 1, 2023 11:08 pm

I support all of the conceptual ideas as initially presented, and will voice my support during the March 16th Council meeting. Consistent with other comments posted in this forum – we also value our transfer station. I’d like to better understand if there are actual *move to* sites identified by the Council or DEM as part of the actual renovation proposal process. EG needs a long-term site required to continue invaluable transfer station services.

Bethany Warburton
Bethany Warburton
March 11, 2023 9:51 am

The plan needs to include long term steps for sewer treatment facility. As sea levels rise in next 20 yrs the plant will become inoperable. And transfer station absolutely needs to relocate. Insane we have this on our waterfront.

May 1, 2023 7:02 am

It’s incredible the town would use tax payer money for such a misguided consultant. The transfer station must be the MOST used public facility on the waterfront and is incredibly convenient for those who pay $$$$taxes, live in town, and get ???services for yard waste (compost pickup, Street leaf vacuuming in the fall, year round pickup). The consultants” intent is to appease another special interest group under the cloak of “the transfer station is ugly”…. Expect us to idly accept a parking lot is More functional and Less ugly…. With the false hope of “perhaps” moving services elsewhere in town. Shame!

The plan proposed and seemingly accepted by Council members not repressing the opinions of their voting constituents recommends: “ removal of the transfer station (perhaps with aspects of it moving elsewhere in town).”

Key word= perhaps (in this town that’s as good as a “heck no”)

Read close folks (or just look at the pictures). They still want to remove a high volume, functioning transfer station and replace it with a PARKING LOT!

1. There already is storage for kayaks and dinghy’s at the town dock. Every year it looks drastically underutilized (waiting in line for the busy transfer station Saturday morning drop off gives great opportunities to observe such things)

2. There is NOguarantee here they will move the transfer station to an equally convenient location (and likewise NO promise to increase collection services/frequency (eg. Leave vaccum in the fall)

3. The prince has no clothes! Who thinks putting a parking lot on our the tiny amount of waterfront helps “beautify”??? There is already a large, mostly unused except a few days in summer, parking lot above the town dock, immediately next to the frequently used Town Transfer station.

“ having the transfer station in such a prime location seemed like a waste. How about green space, instead, with more parking …. A parking structure could be built into the hillside there, allowing for more access to the waterfront. “

If you want to fix the real eyesore (thanks pats Town Councils), move the sewage treatment plant NOT the most used public facility in the East Greenwich waterfront. LEAVE OUR TRANSFER STATION ALONE – Or add value to town services like year round pickup, leave vacuuming in the fall, or lower the damn taxes)

If only our elected officials enforced Parking Ordnance when new business came calling. The tiny EG waterfront doesn’t need more public parking. In addition to the big lot at the town dock (right next to the proposed new one), there’s already a huge parking field at Scalloptown. When was the last time it was full?).


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